Shirley Temple was an iconic star back in the day, darling and dimpled and so talented. She went on to star in numerous films over the years, with her most memorable being Bright Eyes and Heidi. Sadly, Shirley passed away in 2014 at age 85. Her family and fans gathered earlier this year to celebrate what would have been Shirley’s 90th birthday, with her kids revealing some surprising details about the late actor.
Shirley was born in 1928 and burst onto the entertainment scene at a very young age after her mother and father identified her talent. She enrolled in the Meglin’s Dance School in Los Angeles in 1931, rising to the top of her class.
She landed her first role at just three years and, after some smaller roles, Shirley’s big break came with the film Stand Up and Cheer!. She went on to star in a number of movies, becoming a household name in films like Bright Eyes, Curly Top, and Heidi.
Shirley eventually left the entertainment world in her 20s, following 1949’s A Kiss for Corliss, after marrying her first husband in 1945 and, at age 17, having a child, Linda Susan. The couple split after five years.
She remarried and she and her husband, Charles Black, had two children together, Charles Jr. and Lori. Shirley had left the showbiz world behind her but continued to give back to the world in big ways, including serving as a U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia as well as taking on the duties of the Chief of Protocol of the United States.
Her daughter, Susan, explained what Shirley was like as a mother, telling Closer Weekly: “We had a lot of parties. We had a lot of fun decorating the dining room. Being a wife and mom is the greatest of her achievements. We were shopping and travel buddies. We went to many places together. She was one of my very best friends… She was devoted and generous, and she could be a little stern if we didn’t behave. But she was also a lot of fun. Very inventive and imaginative. She was all about her children and her husband.”
Her son, Charles Jr., added that Shirley, despite being well-known from her films, really kept things quite normal. He shared: “The only time I noticed her star quality was when someone else would ask for her autograph. She was an amazing person. She was wonderful — and normal. We had dinner at the table every night all together.”
In an interview earlier this year with Closer Weekly, Charles Jr. noted that Shirley “had completed the second volume of her autobiography” before she passed away which would tell more of her life story. Her daughter, Susan, also said of her mother during the interview, “She was sweet. She just liked to kiss, hug and be loving.”
Shirley once said, “I’ve led three lives. The acting part, wife and mother, and international relations. I’m proud of my career, the first one, and I’m proud of the other two.”
Her longtime friend, Barry Barsamian, said to Shirley, her family was her biggest accomplishment, explaining, “If you go to her grave site, it’s not set up like Shirley Temple the star or the diplomat. It’s more Shirley Temple Black, the wife, the mother, the grandmother, the great-grandmother. It’s very humble and normal.”
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